That remains to be seen of course, but I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be better than the last 12 months have been - the Australian numismatic market seems to be more efficient now than it has been, which is an important stage for us to reach.
By efficient, I mean that buyers and sellers are able to get together and do business within a reasonable period of time. Keep in mind that an efficient market doesn't mean that the prices items are traded at are necessarily strong relative to years past, that stage may yet be some time away.
There has been some water pass under the bridge since we had the major dislocations of corporate liquidations of 2012 and 2013 - a lot of the vendors that were very badly affected by those events have either: moved on; returned their items to the safe (to be retrieved at some indeterminate point in the future); or accept where the market is now, and are working with today's buyers.
New collectors arriving on the scene today have little or no knowledge of the dislocation that's taken place in the rare coin and note market over the past few years, and have nothing but confidence in the value they're getting.
It's taken us quite some time, but I believe 2017 will be the year that the last market cycle in Australian coins and notes draws to a close, and the next cycle will start to unfold. Sure, there's been no small amount of swearing, shouting and tears before we've gotten to this point, but we are here nonetheless.
The Australian numismatic scene has a number of undeniable positive fundamentals right now, and I believe these will become more apparent as the months unfold:
- Demand for physical metals is strong: the tinfoil-hat brigade are nearly as keen on metals as they were back in the heady days of 2008, which is really saying something. That physical demand for bullion and semi-bullion coins always leads to demand for related numismatic items, not to the same degree to be sure, but there is a knock-on effect to be sure.
- The NGB notes will continue to capture the public's attention: the new $5 note that was released in September 2016 was undoubtedly the biggest shot in the arm the Australian note market has had for 15 years. Collectors and the general public alike pretty much went bananas over the new $5 note, chasing them in all their permutations, and I have no doubt that will be the case when the $10 is released later this year. Demand for decimal notes has certainly taken a tick up in the months that have followed, there's no reason at all that will slow down now.
- Independent grading of Australian coins is now an accepted part of the numismatic landscape: this is another development that fundamentally changed the way coins are bought and sold over the past few years. I think it's fair to say that independent grading began to take hold of the broader Australian market about 5 years ago, so we're now past the innovation and adoption stages, and are well into the majority or maturity phase of this new "technology". Prices have settled as a result, and across the board the pace of trade is returning to efficient levels.
- Several segments currently offer excellent value for money - value that collectors haven't seen for decades: if you check what certain coins and notes are bringing today relative to what they've sold previously, you'll see that in some cases we're seeing prices that are equal to those of the early 1990's. Banknotes, proof coins, colonial rarities - you name it, value really is there. There's no doubt that a lot of collectors have been burned by the events of the past few years, and they'll never return to the market. However it's also true that the collectors entering the market today are thankfully unaffected by that trauma, and so take the market as they see it - cheap and great fun.
- Numismatic activity abounds: when I say numismatic activity here, I'm referring to research, learning and new information being brought to light by collectors around the country. There is good work being done by coin and note geeks across the country - new varieties are being discovered, and more information is coming to light on other chapters of our coin and note history. To me, this is a sign that those active in the market at the moment are in it for the here and now, without both eyes on where the market will be in 5 years or 6 months time. No collector starts out or even stays in this past-time without any regard for the future, but if they're focused on what's in front of them, they aren't concened about what's coming down the pipe, and that is a good sign.
Just what the future holds for us is yet to be seen of course, however with these fundamentals in place, I believe the average collector will need to find something else to complain about in 2017.